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Countries Advance in Forging a Regional Agreement on Access to Environmental Information, Participation and Justice
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean finished a new round of negotiations to reach a regional agreement on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters (Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development), making important progress on drafting a final text, which is expected to be approved by the region’s governments in 2017.
The Fifth Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Principle 10), organized by ECLAC and the government of Chile, was held on November 21-25 at the United Nations regional organization’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile.
During the gathering, Dominica became the 23rd country to adhere to the regional initiative for the effective application of Principle 10 in the region, which was well received by the rest of the participating nations.
Furthermore, the delegates debated substantive aspects of the regional agreement, based on the fourth version of the text compiled by the Presiding Officers of the process (the Technical Secretariat of which is held by ECLAC), which included countries’ proposals from previous meetings. They made particular progress on articles 8 and 9 of the instrument, which refer to public participation in environmental decision-making and access to justice, respectively.
They also agreed to continue the negotiations at a sixth meeting, which will be held in Brazil in March 2017. “We need to move toward a robust accord, one that serves to improve the standards in our region. In Brazil we want to continue the spirit of dialogue that has characterized these gatherings,” the delegates stressed.
In the framework of the fifth meeting of the negotiating committee, officials launched the book Society, rights and the environment: international human rights standards applicable to access to information, public participation and access to justice, prepared jointly by ECLAC and the Regional Office of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The publication compiles the international human rights standards that are applicable to access to information, participation and access to justice, and invites the region’s countries to strengthen the promotion and protection of these rights while also incorporating them into their strategies, policies and programs aimed at sustainable development.
“Development will not be sustainable or inclusive unless equality with entitlement to rights is the cornerstone. This publication contributes to studying the virtuous circle between human rights, access rights and environmental protection,” Alicia Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said in reference to the document.
The Observatory on Principle 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will be available soon on ECLAC’s website, was also presented at the meeting. This brings together the laws, policies, treaties and jurisprudence that guarantee that people’s rights to information, participation and justice in environmental matters—consecrated in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration—are fully applied.